What Is Medicare Supplement Insurance
Medicare is government-funded health care insurance for Americans age 65 and up. Plans include deductibles and copays, so the insurance doesnt cover 100% of medical costs. Private insurance companies sell Medicare supplement plans to limit costs associated with Medicare Part A and Part B.
|Medicare Part A Deductible and Coinsurance2020 to 2022 Increases|
Part B coinsurance is typically 20% of the cost for doctor visits, hospital inpatient services, outpatient therapy and durable medical equipment. Medicare Part D is a prescription drug plan with varying copays and deductibles.
We recommend shopping around using a Medicare expert like United Medicare Advisors to compare plans. There are 10 standard Medigap plans, and theres not one thats best for all situations. Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin provide Medicare supplement policies for residents.
What about Medicare SELECT?
Some states also offer a Medigap policy called Medicare SELECT. While these plans typically cost less compared to other Medicare supplement plans, you must use only certain hospitals and doctors. Unless you require emergency services, these plans pay no benefits if you go out of the network.
When to Buy Medicare Supplement Insurance
What is the biggest mistake Americans make regarding Medicare supplemental insurance? Not enrolling on time.
How To Compare Medicare Supplement Plans
Medicare Supplement Insurance plans are sold by private insurance companies to cover some of Original Medicare’s out-of-pocket costs.
These costs can include Medicare deductibles, coinsurance, copayments and more.
The 10 Medigap plans available in most states are standardized, so their benefits will be the same no matter where you purchase them the primary difference is the price you pay for them.
All 10 standardized Medigap plans provide at least partial coverage for:
Medicare Part A coinsurance for hospital care
Medicare Part A coinsurance or copayment for hospice care
Medicare Part B coinsurance or copayment
The first three pints of blood
Who Is Plan G Best Suited For
Plan G will work best for people who want comprehensive coverage but arent eligible for Plan F. Its still the case that most people who qualify for Plan F should seek it out, but otherwise, Plan G is a good choice as well. So, if youre not eligible for Plan F, dont worry too much Plan G will serve you just fine.
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Final Thoughts On Medigap Plans
If youre going to get a Medigap plan, dont skimp on the research. Its imperative to find a plan thats perfect for you, so make sure that you know what your options are and what to look for. In general, most people will be best served by one of Plan F, Plan G, Plan N, or Plan D, so look at these plans first and foremost. Make sure to compare prices and make sure that you want to go with Medigap rather than Medicare Advantage before you commit.
If you want more help finding a plan, feel free to reach out to us. Were independent of any insurance provider, so our focus is always on finding a plan that works best for you. Were experienced in dealing with all major Medigap and Medicare Advantage plan providers. That expertise translates into finding the best Medicare plan for your needs.
We at Bluewave Insurance work with both Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans. If you are insure of what plan to choose or just have general questions, call us at today!
Is A Medicare Supplement Plan Worth The Money
The average American without supplemental Medicare coverage spends about $7,473 in out-of-pocket costs while a person with Medigap spends about $6,621. The advantages of Medicare Supplement Plans is their ability to save you money and provide peace of mind about your finances if you experience an illness or accident. The disadvantage is that you may pay for coverage you do not use or need.
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Gather Price Data From Different Insurance Providers
It truly pays to compare brands since cost differences can be as high as $200 in some cases, even for the same policy in the same location. Its a good idea to look at a minimum of three different companies before making a final decision. Many insurance companies provide quotes online, but some do not. Keep in mind that most online quotes are informal and non-binding. When you apply for coverage you may find that your qualification for discounts differs from what you were quoted online. In case of confusion, its always best to pick up the phone.
As you compare the prices of different brands, keep the following tips in mind:
Compare the same plan or plans across companiesPlan A from one company cannot be accurately compared to Plan G from another company. Make sure you are always comparing exactly the same letters. Watch out for High Deductible, Select, and Innovative or healthy living versions of the letter plan, as these designations all change the value of the plan.
Inquire about discountsMost companies offer at least one discount, and some offer several. Some discounts are percentages of the premium, but others are a flat amount. With some as high as 12 percent off, discounts can make a huge difference in your long-term costs. Its important to inquire if your discount will last for the life of the policy, as some do disappear over time.
Should I Get A Medigap Plan
For many people, the choice between these two plans comes down to price. Ask yourself questions like:
- Do I need the stability of a higher monthly cost with little-to-no money spent out of pocket?
- Can I afford to pay some costs out of pocket, as long as they are less costly and more predictable than with Medicare Part B alone?
A Medigap plan might be right for you if you:
- Don’t mind paying a higher monthly premium but paying lessor nothingwhen you get medical care
- Live outside of Michigan for more than a month each year and want to seek routine health services when you’re away
- Don’t want to worry about staying in-network for your services to be covered, because Medigap plans dont use networks
- Dont mind having a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan
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Frequently Asked Questions About Medicare Supplement Plans
When should I buy Medicare Supplement Insurance?
Put the first day of your Medigap open enrollment period on your calendar. This six-month window kicks off the month you turn 65. You must also enroll in Medicare Part B to be eligible to buy a Medigap policy. You can sign up for any Medicare supplemental insurance during the six months, even if you have a preexisting condition.
You may be able to buy Medicare supplemental insurance after the six-month window. However, insurers may increase premiums or deny coverage.
Do I have to purchase Medicare supplement insurance?
You are not required to buy Medicare supplement insurance. The most recent data shows around 13.5 million people enrolled in a Medigap plan.
Without a Medicare supplement plan, youre responsible for out-of-pocket costs that can cost thousands of dollars. Health care expenses can eat into your retirement savings, so buying coverage is probably a good financial move.
What if Im 65 or older and still using my employer coverage?
If you are one of the millions of Americans working after age 65, your employers health insurance coverage may be sufficient. Medicare supplement open enrollment starts when you enroll in Medicare Part B. You can delay enrollment until you retire.
If you arent sure if you qualify for coverage, start by finding out if you are eligible for Medicare.
How much does Medicare supplemental insurance cost?
Can I get a discount on a Medicare Supplement Insurance?
How We Chose The Best Medigap Providers
Since Medigap policies are federally regulated, the actual coverage you receive will be identical from company to company. For example, a Medigap Plan C from Cigna will offer the same benefits as Aetnas Plan C. The companies listed below, however, provide some additional services that help them rise above hundreds of other Medigap providers.
Heres what we looked for:
- Nationwide availability: Few insurers offer Medigap policies in every state, but we looked for insurers that offered coverage in 40 or more states. Some of these providers even allow you to keep your policy upon relocating to another state.
- Transparent pricing: From free online quotes to guarantees that your premiums wont rise with age, we looked for providers that make it very clear what youre paying for.
- Extra perks: Our favorite Medigap providers offer extra benefits for policyholders, such as household discounts, fitness programs, and savings on healthcare services.
- Financial stability: Using data from AM Best, we made sure each of these providers rated highly in financial health and reliability.
- In-person agents: In an increasingly digital world, we value when a company has in-person agents available to walk you through the details of your insurance policy.
Best Medicare Supplement Companies
Unlike with traditional health insurance, where policies differ among providers, Medicare Supplement plans are standardized so that the benefits for each plan letter are the same for each company. This means that Medicare Supplement Plan G from UnitedHealthcare will be identical in coverage to the Plan G offered through Aetna.
However, rates will change from company to company since each provider will choose a different pricing structure for its Medicare Supplement plans. It’s important that you take this into account along with each providerâs financial strength and history of rate increases. Some companies may offer cheap rates but will increase your rates more quickly as you age.
- Medigap plans offered: A, F, G, N and high-deductible F
- Average cost of Plan G: $179
Cigna, like UHC and Aetna, currently has an AM Best rating of A, meaning that it has the financial strength to continue to pay health insurance claims in the future. Cigna plans are widely available, and Cigna stands out for its high-deductible Plan F, which is an affordable way to protect yourself if you need expensive medical care. Cigna’s Medicare Supplement plans are generally priced higher than plans from some other companies, but using the company’s household premium discount can help you to get a better deal. The discount is available in most states when multiple family members in the same household enroll in the same Cigna Medigap plan.
Best For Nationwide Availability: Blue Cross Blue Shield
Service area: 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Medigap plans offered: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M and N .
Standout feature: Theres at least one Blue Cross Blue Shield company serving every state, so wherever you are, its likely that there are BCBS Medigap plans available to you.
Blue Cross Blue Shield is a collective of 34 companies. Together, BCBS companies make up about 42% of the U.S. health insurance market. BCBS companies offer Medicare Supplement Insurance everywhere in the country, but because each of the companies functions independently, plan offerings, pricing, and other details will vary.
In some locations, BCBS companies offer all 10 Medigap plan types to qualifying applicants.
BCBS tied for the top score on the American Customer Satisfaction Index for health insurers.
BCBS companies offer Medigap policies in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Prices, plan types, extras and member experiences can vary depending on your local BCBS company.
Both Medigap Plan A and Plan N were at least 50% more expensive than the markets best prices, on average, in quotes obtained by NerdWallet.
BCBS offers Medicare Select plans that are cheaper than the standard versions, but you have to stay in-network.
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How We Chose The Best Medicare Supplement Insurance Companies
The world of insurance is large and there are hundreds of companies across the country offering Medicare Supplement plans. So, to narrow it down and choose the best companies in the industry, we took the following factors into consideration:
Variety of Plans OfferedWhile there are countless companies offering Medicare Supplement Insurance, many only offer a couple of policies out of the 10 available. We focused our search on companies that are able to provide a majority of the available plans. These companies give potential customers the greatest amount of options to select a plan that fits their needs.
Number of States ServedThere are many insurance companies around the country that only offer Medicare Supplement Insurance in a handful of states. While its difficult to find true nationwide coverage, the companies featured on our list are able to serve a majority of the country. However, not all plans will be offered in all places.
Company IntegrityWhen purchasing something as important as health insurance, its vital to select a provider you can trust. Because of this, we focused our search on companies that are widely regarded as trustworthy and have a long history of providing customers with insurance services. To determine this, we looked at factors like awards won, Better Business Bureau ratings, and customer reviews.
How To Pick The Best Medicare Supplement Plan
When you first compare Medicare Supplement options, you might feel overwhelmed at the available choices. Fortunately, there are a few good ways to narrow down your options so that you can see what works best for you. Use the following list of questions to determine what you should look for in supplemental coverage.
- Do I want a provider that offers simple coverage, or am I looking for a more comprehensive solution to my insurance needs?
- Do I need a Medicare Supplement plan to cover something very specific that I dont want to or cant afford to pay?
- Do I need something that covers me when I travel or live somewhere other than my primary residence for a good part of the year?
- Can I make a high-deductible plan work for me, or should I pursue low-deductible supplemental plans only?
These questions are just a start, but going through the list can help you distinguish the most suitable plan types. By answering honestly, youll also avoid overpaying for supplemental coverage that you dont need or want.
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Why We Recommend Cigna
Cigna is trusted by 95 million customers worldwide to cover their medical claims. In addition to paying claims for Medicare Supplement insurance plans, Cigna provides extra perks like mobile apps, online resources, a household discount in most states, a health information line, and a Healthy Rewards program that provides discounts on fitness memberships, eyeglasses, hearing aids, and more.
What Customers Are Saying
Customers mention that Cigna provides coverage and customer service above and beyond what other companies offer. Cigna members praise the care that phone representatives take to make plan details clear.
Client TestimonialsKatheryn wrote, I was absolutely amazed and so impressed with their service- I highly recommend to others. Bianca commented that every time I call about a claim I dont understand, a representative will take the time to explain everything, sometimes multiple times until I fully understand .
Best Medigap Plan Selection For A Small Company: Bankers Fidelity Life
This Atlanta-based insurance company sells eight different Medicare supplement plans. Thats a lot for any insurer, but its especially impressive for a small one.
Other reasons Bankers Fidelity Life might be the best Medicare supplement insurance company for you:
- It is licensed to sell Medicare supplement plans in 46 states.
- It also sells life and cancer insurance.
- It has an A- rating from A.M. Best.
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Narrow Your Search To A Few Plans
Using the table and explanations of different standardized plans that we have included above, decide which plans could work for you. Many plans only differ from each other in one or two coverage categories, so you may have some flexibility in your choice. Two or three plans on the list may all be a reasonable fit for your lifestyle. Your coverage choice will be influenced by your current health, anticipated healthcare needs, how high of a premium you can afford, and what companies operate in your area.
Full coverage plans like C, G, and F usually have the highest premiums. A higher premium can mean predictably low out-of-pocket costs, while a plan with a lower premium will entail more out-of-pocket spending and less predictability. Plans A, K, and L are some of the lowest coverage options and are likely to have the lowest premiums. These plans are best for those in good health. Plans like B and D fall somewhere in the middle.
If Select plans are offered in your area, they are another low-premium option. Make sure that you like the designated network of doctors and hospitals before you try a Select plan. Factors to consider include the local reputation of the facilities and how far youll need to drive to receive treatment. If you decide to try a Select plan, ask your agent about trial periods. In some circumstances, you may be able to return your Select policy and switch or return to a regular Medicare Supplement plan without penalty if you decide Select isnt for you.
How To Choose The Best Medigap Company
When it comes to comparing Medicare Supplement insurance plans, the main relevant factors are price and carrier stability. Because plan coverage is standardized, you wont have to worry about less coverage with one company over another. Thus, the things to focus on are how cheap your coverage is, and how stable its likely to be over time.
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What Do Medicare Supplement Plans Not Cover
Most Medicare Supplement plans have limits and exclusions to what they cover. For example, Plans C, D, F, G, and N cover 80% of medically necessary emergency care outside the U.S., but each of those four plans has other areas that they dont cover. Medicare.gov offers a detailed explanation of benefits for each plan.
Most common things not covered by Medicare Supplement plans:
- Part B Deductible
- Part B Excess Charge
- Foreign Travel Exchange